- Title: JAPAN: South Korean former comfort women cancel meeting with Osaka Mayor
- Date: 25th May 2013
- Summary: CLOSE UP OF A COMFORT WOMAN'S FACE CLOSE UP OF HER EYES
- Embargoed: 9th June 2013 13:00
- Location: Japan
- Country: Japan
- Topics: Crime,Conflict,International Relations,History,Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA4HXOB142L7T61E2DYRV10DZZ6
- Story Text: Former South Korean comfort women cancel their meeting with the Osaka Mayor, after he refused to withdraw comment saying the use of woman forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels was "necessary".
Two elderly South Korean women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels abruptly cancelled a meeting on Friday (May 24) with Osaka Mayor Toru Hashimoto.
Hashimoto had refused to withdraw comments that women forced to work in Japanese wartime military brothels was "necessary".
Hundreds of Japanese gathered front of the Osaka City Hall to lend their support to the South Korean former comfort women Kim Bok-dong and Kil Won-ok and present a municipal government official with a petition against the mayor.
"The thought of meeting with Mayor Hashimoto with worn hearts and coming face-to-face with the culprit behind these falsehoods just became a frightfully enormous psychological shock," the women said in a statement read out by Bang Chung-ja, the co-chair of the supporters' groups, at a news conference. The two octogenarian former comfort women were not at the press conference nor at the earlier protest.
Hashimoto sparked a firestorm of criticism at home and abroad when he said last week that the military brothels had been needed, and that Japan has been unfairly singled out for wartime practices common among other countries' militaries.
Kim and Kil, in their statement, said they had hoped the planned meeting would persuade Hashimoto, who heads the small right-leaning Japan Restoration Party, to change his mind.
The women said they did not want any apology from Hashimoto to be used as political fodder.
"Indescribably heart-wrenching reality and history of the victims cannot be traded with his performance of an apology and sweet talk. We have no desire to be trampled upon once again," the women said in a statement provided by the Korean Council for the Women Drafted for Military Sexual Slavery by Japan.
The issue has often frayed relations between Tokyo and Seoul. Japan says the matter of compensation for the women was settled under a 1965 treaty establishing diplomatic ties. In 1995, Japan set up a fund to make payments to the women from private contributions, but South Korea says that was not official and therefore insufficient.
Hashimoto's statements have upset many, even Japanese.
In Tokyo at a museum dedicated to crimes against women especially Japan's war-time comfort women, people were very critical of the Osaka mayors comments.
"These are women victims of a war triggered by Japan. (Politicians) don't seem to be thinking at all about putting an end to this and, if placed in the same situation again, would probably would do it all over again. In that sense, they have learned absolutely nothing from history," said Eriko Ikeda in a room filled with black-and-white photographs of many of the comfort women survivors.
Located near several university, the museum attracts young visitors such as Megumi Arita, who said she was ashamed of her politicians.
"As a Japanese national, I find (Hashimoto's) statement's very embarrassing. It is irresponsible for someone in a position of leadership to be saying such things."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also caused controversy during his first term in 2006-2007 by saying there was no proof that Japan's military had kidnapped women to work in the brothels. Such sentiments are common among Japanese ultra-conservatives.
But Abe has sought to distance himself from Hashimoto's remarks and his government has drawn back from early signals that it might revise a landmark 1993 government statement acknowledging military involvement in coercing the women.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
- Copyright Notice: (c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013. Open For Restrictions - http://about.reuters.com/fulllegal.asp
- Usage Terms/Restrictions: Video restrictions: parts of this video may require additional clearances. Please see ‘Business Notes’ for more information.